Pyro Sand 2

Wow, I haven't laid out a game for play in a while.

Pyro Sand 2 isn't technically a game, but it is a fun time waster.

Layer concrete and then use water. It gets you a great waterfall effect.


Other Titles For...

Other Titles for Super Mario Brothers:

Biodiversity of Fungi by Mueller
Biology and Control of the Smut Fungi by Fischer


The Tech Specialist

I'm tiered of hearing people bitch about the Tech Specialist for D20 Star Wars.

"It can't fight! It can't do anything! Waaaaaaaaaa!"

No, the original Tech Specialist can't fight. But that wasn't the point. The Tech Specialist is exactly that: a specialist.

I play a Tech Specialist for the Star Wars Eats Your Soul! Campaign. My tech's ranks center around astrogate, pilot, computers, technology, droids, and various types of starship weaponry. My tech is not Force-sensitive. This is the list of what the character has accomplished so far:

  • built transforming knife droids that hook onto their target and dig in
  • distracted, injured, and incapacitated dark jedi and sith wannabees by playing with gravity controls, hacking computers, blowing up their stuff, decompressing rooms, and tossing desks.
  • crawled into a ship's mainframe from a vent and rewired the whole thing
  • jacked an assassin's speeder to flip on top of him when he tried to get away
  • started a gang war on Tatooine
  • hacked sith technology
  • exposed an Imperial remnant base just by paying attention to floor plans
  • saved Jaina Solo
  • talked shop with Luke Skywalker on moisture farming
  • found home holovids of Anakin and Padme
  • turned a tourist submersible into an actual submarine with turbo lasers
  • disarmed a shield array, upside down, under water
  • found one of Vader's imperial installations in the undercity of Coruscant
  • rigged a dying ship to go four times its speed in order to go half way around the Outer Rim in half the time
  • saved the mother of the jedi heroine of the story
  • ran a blockade of Star Destroyers to get to a sieged planet
  • saved two Corellian ambassadors and their guests at a party
  • paraded as a mercenary on Star Destroyer to get into a cloning lab in the Deep Core
  • piped a static feed into the headsets of mind controlled Stormtroopers to disorient them
  • hijacked a capital ship
  • hijacked a Star Destroyer with Imperials on board (decompression's a bitch)
  • built an ion cannon out of farm equipment
  • was mentioned, not by name, but by nickname, by Grand Admiral Thrawn (scary bastard) to the senate and Jedi counsel as having considerable skills. He was rather impressed with her ability to hijack his new Star Destroyer and out manuevar his ship.
  • was also mentioned by nickname by the technical genius (if idiotic sith wannabee) Dalt as being almost as good as him
Dalt was, in fact, quite flattered when she said, "I've seen you with a lightsaber. I'm more worried about the cortex bomb."

To play a Tech Specialist you need two things: a smart player and a GM who isn't drooling over lightsaber battles. The Star Wars world, leaving Jedi aside, is a Tech dream. Everything you do is guided by some form of technology. Buildings, ships, even whole planets, are climate controlled. Droids serve almost every function and cyborg parts are readily available. A tech can take any part of his surrondings and use it to his advantage. A tech who's small and agile can not only hide behind fighters, but crawl into vents and machinery to control it from the inside.

The most useful character in the enter Star Wars universe is the tech. Sure, Jedi are uber-cool, but they die just as fast as everyone else in the vacuum of space. And sure, scoundrels, fringers, and soldiers have weapons skills, but tose same weapons turn to crap when introduced to a strong enough magnet. And sure, dark side jedi are evil and cunning, but zero-g training just isn't in the sith handbook.

The tech specialist wins. Hands down.

me out.


All I Want for Christmas

With the shark-like present frenzy that will happen in my mother's basement on Christmas morn approaching, there are really only three things I can think about:

1. Jesus (I am a Christian.)
2. Origins (yeah, I know it's seven months away)
3. Payday (with which I will buy more games)

I have Legos Star Wars (both) on my list for Christmas, so I'm not allowed to purchase them for their sweet, sweet inards. Instead, I will have to drool over Okami, dot.Hack G.U., Raving Rabids, and Bully.

I am a BIG Rayman fan. I played the original Rayman on the Atari Jaguar. They've always wanted to do crazy rabbits for Rayman and finally, I get to see some crazy rabbit action. And cow tossing. Did I mention cow tossing? The only thing, besides cow tossing, that will make me happy is Globox punching. Man, I hate that thing. (Yes, I know it has children. I feel sorry for them.)

dot. Hack has its own problems. The original series was phenomenal with a ton of TV, straight to DVD, and toy tie-ins. There was a reason for this. dot.Hack is produced by Bandai. Bandai will not do a video game unless it has an audience before production. Street Fighter, Inuyasha, Naruto: all of these things had serious fan bases before the games were released. dot.Hack was a shot in the dark for them. To make sure they could sell the games, they created a fan base in reverse. While producing the game, they inundated the market with an animated series and tons of cool toys.

They didn't need to. The games took off on their own. Finally, we get to see more of the dot.Hack world. Bandai still hasn't learned their lesson though. They are still producing a ton of stuff to go with G.U., even though it can stand confidently on the shoulders of its predecessors. Everyone who loved the original series will give the new game a go.

Though I haven't heard a lot of positive things about G.U. (battles are quick, but controls are clunky). I have seen that most people are giving it at least a 70% out of 100. That means it's doing better in reviews than my fav game Shadow Hearts (the original). I have a feeling I won't mind plunking money down on it.

Bully is still calling me. I think it's funny that with the rush of two new console releases and Gears of War on the horizon that everyone seems to have forgotten about Bully. Which is good since it doesn't deserve the bad hype. And before anyone mentions kissing boys, most gamers will play the glitch once for kicks and then get back into the serious game play.

People play games for two things: fun (which is stress relieving) and stories. You can't get Lord of the Rings everyday, but video games seem to manage an epic that can change your life once a year or so.

More on that later.


A Note About Reviews

Reviews, reviews, reviews.

They're everywhere. Everyone is giving their opinion of something (myself included).

That's why I've decided to stop doing reviews of video games. They really aren't that productive, especially when you can go down to Blockbuster and rent a title to see if you like it enough to buy. Honestly, if I'd listened to the reviews of some of my favorite games (Shadow Hearts, Chaos Legion, Aria of Sorrow) I would have totally missed out on the fun.

I've decided that the best way to find out if I even want to go through the trouble of renting is to ask someone who has similar taste in games. I know I can read whatever Gabe (Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade) has to say about an rpg or adventure game (note that he doesn't do reviews either) and find out if I want to take a walk down the hill (where blockbuster is located).

The only time I've found game reviews helpful is when everyone who has touched a particular game says you absolutely must play it (like Shadow of the Colossus and Okami).

So from here on out, I'll talk about a game and tell you if I enjoyed it. If you have similar taste in games, this will help you. If not, ignore me.

Me Out.

Portrait of Ruin... Continued

Finally, a day straight of nothing but game play. It would have been two but... stupid car with it's stupid battery terminals. Anyway, there are more important things than transportation and Castlevania is one of them.

One of the things I liked about Dawn of Sorrow was the wide range of color pallettes and interesting scenery. Portrait of Ruin takes this a step further by developing a wide range of locales for exploration to the paintings. No longer is Castlevania just the traditional castle. You can now go to strange places like Ancient Egypt, something we only saw a taste of in Dawn of Sorrow.

Portrait of Ruin, while being 32 bit in play is 64 bit in some of the background rendering. Since 64 bit games tend to make me a little woozy, I was pleased to see soemthing I could interact with and not get motion sickness. Speaking of the backgrounds, not only do they look fantastic, they have a life of their own. Cans fall when you land on food store shelves, making change at a cash register will net you some food, hell, punching meat will get you a quest item.

And then their are the quests: run by the ghost of Eric Lecarde, you get some pretty nifty stuff for completeing them.

We've got some griping about the anime style art all over forums and message boards. (i.e. no Kojima). To be honest, I'm glad. I don't think his style would have worked well for this one. Jonathan has a very animated face and a wide range of expressions. Kojima has traditionally done singular portraits for the characters and left it at that. Since I like to see more than one expression on the face of the characters, I'll take the new art. (Though the artist for Portrait is different from DoS, I like the new Soma better.)

I've also seen some people dissing the game before it was even released. That's just bad form, people. I'm not anywhere near finishing the first castle and I'm enjoying it immensely. The game forces you to use your brain and come up with strategy. Dying a few times with Jonathan means you need to be using Charlotte more and combining their attacks more often. It also means using the talk function. Jonathan and Charlotte will give you valuable information here.

So far, the game, which was cheaper than previous releases in the franchise, is giving me my money's worth.


Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

I pre-ordered Portrait of Ruin early enough to get the sweet, sweet bonus package. The bonus consists of a black box 'wax sealed' with what has become the Castlevania logo. Inside was a cd chalk full of music from all of the games, a book filled with artwork (alas, it did not have my fav work from DoS), and the new official timeline, which actually makes sense. Iggy and his marketing department did a fine job with this one.

I haven't started the game yet (damn you work!), but I'll give my impressions of it later.

On the work note, we like to play a little game here in the library. We like to take the titles of books we find and use them as alternate titles for other things. I do the video games. Here's an example:

Other Titles for Final Fantasy 7:
When Corporations Rule the World
How Wal*Mart is Destroying America
All Marketers are Liars
Principles of Biochemistry

Yeah. We are sick people.

Hybrid Happiness

Do you know what this is? It's a box of 8 and 16 bit goodness!

The FC Twin is a hybrid that plays both NES and SNES games. It goes for sixty bucks and I want to enshrine in my home next to Mother Mary (Yes. I am a Catholic geek.).

What makes this system special is that I don't have to worry about my older systems shorting out on me anymore. Though I am lucky enough that there's a student in my town who will fix old NES and NES games for a couple bucks, he hasn't quite gotten the hang of the SNES and I have games that need to be played.

When I think about it, I will save a boat load of money not having to pay $40 or more for a re-release of old NES and SNES games for the Gameboy and DS. Which means I can tell Nintendo to stick those prices in a place the sun doesn't shine.

Now there is one draw back. The patent on NES expired, but not on SNES. That makes the system illegal. If Nintendo wants to push it, this is prime lawsuit material. If you are interested, find one fast.


Tike Gamers and Crisis Core Previews - Not Really a Post

I wrote previously about making rash judgements about the claim that video games are too complicated for children. Here's an article about young pro gamers, one an eight year old who learned to game at two thanks to his father.

On a different note, here is a link to a Crisis Core preview. It's five minutes long and totally in Japanese, but you get the gist of it if you aren't a speaker. I'm not going to get my hopes up after Dirge of Cereberus, but I'm not going to play it anyway, since I consider the PSP a waste of money. Zax looks awesome though and we do get Bahamut sign.


Ebayin' It

I love ebay! Check out these cool auctions. Something for the collector in all of us!

Please keep in mind that I am not selling any of these items or advertising them. I just think they're cool. Also note that these are ebay auctions and the links will die when the auction closes.

Masamune (as in Sephiroth's Masamune)

Skeletor's Sword

Liono's Sword from Thundercats (it lights up!)

The Master Sword

A Gunblade (I still don't get the physics behind why these things just don't explode.)

Tetsaiga (I know I spelled that wrong...)

Buster Sword

Woozy (of Devil May Cry fame. She's a good girl.)

And last but not least:

Auron's Sword

Because Auron is awesome!


Too Complicated?

Even though I haven't posted in a bit, I'm pleased with the amount of hits I've been getting anyway. I would gloat right now about Sony's PS3 debaucle, but I think I've done that enough in previous posts predicting Sony's soon to be fall from grace.

I really hate the PS3 commercials. Not only are they creepy, they don't convey what the system can do. If you look around, you can find the 3 minute promo Sony used to convince investors that the PS3 was worthy of their monetary support. Though 3 minutes is way too long for most media outlets (the 30 second comercial spot being king), Sony should have taken the millions they spent on the crap their marketing department came up with and just paid for the air time. The 3 minute promo sold me on the product and all they showed was one game.

But on to the reason for my post:

I read a book this morning on computer game graphics by Liz Faber. Though I gave you an Amazon link, don't bother buying the book. It's from 1998 and makes two assertions that left me in stitches.

The first was that Daikatana was going to be the first person shooter, displacing the legendary status of Doom. I remember that piece of crap. The only thing Daikatana managed to do was find itself a very tiny, yet rabid following. Doom, even for all it's flaws is still the top dog. And for good reason. It's flaws are what make it great. It's easily exploitable code gave rise to millions of WADs, including "Barney " Doom, "Happy" Doom, and "Star Wars" Doom where the gun became a lightsaber.

The second assertion actually blew me away with it's stupidity. Faber claims that with the advent of Final Fantasy VII, video games were now too complicated for young gamers.


Okay, just because you found the materia system a little difficult doesn't mean my sister, at ten years old, didn't breeze through it. The materia system is, in fact, the most difficult to understand magic system that the Final Fantasy games have ever presented us with. Even so, young players, many of whom had FF7 as their introduction to gaming did not find that game, or the many that followed, complicated at all.

I know a great many of the people who read this blog aren't even old enough to vote, let alone drink, and don't find any game presented to them complicated. The very idea that a game would be 'too tough' for them is insulting. Content too mature, yes. But too complicated? I'll just hand you a fire extinguisher and hope the flames don't get too bad.

As an aging gamer, some of the newer games are a bit too much for me. Those games require more of my patience while I master the controls. But that's only a dexterity issue. The gambit system of FF12 is no more complicated than the skill point system of Star Ocean 3.

The only thing I find that young gamers have a hard time grasping is the story of a game. Video games today are interactive novels. And just like "Hamlet" and "War and Peace," Shadow of the Colossus and God of War are hard reads. A young gamer may enjoy aspects of the game, but the totality of the experience is lost of them.

With this in mind, I am a big supporter of keeping games rated M out of the hands of minors. Though Generation Y is vastly more intelligent than their predecessors (as noted by the drop in violent juvenile crime, drop in teen pregnancy, and rise in teens who pledge and stick with abstinence), there is content that just shouldn't be available to them. Though I'm sure my little sister can handle Grand Theft Auto, I don't want her to ever think that the way women are treated in the games is appropriate.

And that's why games are rated by the ESRB. Certain age groups have a basic maturity level that allows them to separate different levels of fantasy from reality. The ESRB does a great job handling the ratings. The ratings are simple and easy to understand and found on both the front and back of the box.

The fact that they are so simple is why I find news articles about parental inability to read them disturbing. To be honest, I believe that this can be chalked up to basic laziness. There is no reason a parent, upon walking in a game store with no prior knowledge of a game, cannot take it from the shelf, turn it over, read the ESRB label, and determine whether or not a game is suitable for their child. If the parent has questions, there is no reason why they can't ask the clerk for help or advice.

I know that every single person out there knows a real, live, hardcore gamer (every member of the staff at my library can point me out). If you are a confused parent, find that gamer friend and ask for help. Don't be kept in the dark by politics and rhetoric when you can get the skinny yourself. And you should be absolutely ashamed to have to be told basic parenting from a gamer's blog.

At this point, the only thing too complicated is the reactions of parents and politicians to games.


Geeking Out

If you haven't seen Weird Al's new White and Nerdy video, you are missing out. It's really about us and all our friends, though I don't have much of a handle on Klingon yet.

On an equally cool, but just as geeky level, here's a video of Dice Stacking. Super cool!


Quick Your Bitchin'

Sarah had FFXII on release day and has played it non-stop since. On a random day off, I made dinner (she is the cook), so she could sit down and immediately start playing. She's apologized to us several times about monopolizing the only TV in the house. We've all told her to shut up and play. For us, video games aren't just about playing. They are also about watching. It's a community thing. (You should have seen us during Bard's Tale.)

FFXII has gotten rave reviews. This coming after a whole lot of bitching about the battle system. I love it! I wish I could do the Tri-Ace move until your bar is gone, but the gambits work really well. Sarah has only had to pause when I walked in front of her or for a cut scene, while we waited for someone to get their butt back on the sofa. The battle system is so intuitive, that I think I might have found a Final Fantasy game I can play (Dirge of Cerebus does not count).

The characters are actual people from their dialogue to their actions. Each have real motivation for what they do and say. And, for the first time in a long time, we have real heroes: people who aren't either muscle-bound dimwits, depressed loners, or triple D cup tomb raiders. Aaron Linde wrote a very insightful article on Balthier, so I'll leave it to him to explain why the characters are so fantastic.

I once told a coworker that video games were really just the new form of the novel, a story telling device. This is one of the games that proves it. It has one of the finest RPG battle systems around. It is hope for the gaming future.

So stop bitching and go play.

And take your kid sister to watch. You'll need the extra pair of eyes for the treasure chests.

PS3 vs Wii

I was asked recently if I was excited by the release of two big consoles so soon upon us. The answer is no.

I didn't even pre-order either of them.

I am a Sony girl, but between the glitches they know about, the ones they don't, problems with back-compatibility, and a few stores refusing to even take pre-orders, I figured I can wait. It's a good idea in the long run anyway. I save money and get a better product in a year. I really want to play a game? Rent-a-Center has me covered.

And for the Wii. I grew up with Nintendo and I'm excited about being able to play old games like Life Force again. Because I love Life Force. If you haven't played it, you've missed out. Because Life Force is awesome.

Anyway, as much as it interests me, the one game I'm interested in Wii-wise is Zelda, which is being released on the Cube as well. I'm covered. I'll wait for the first price drop saving myself money and a whole bunch of glitches yet to be discovered.

To be honest, I haven't been less excited in years. I have my PS2 and DS. Castlevania, Portrait of Ruin is coming out in a month and I've already put down most of the cost on my pre-order. I just got a brand new video card, so my computer game habit will not go neglected.

So which do I want? Neither. I'm good.


Send in the Clones

Because mc-chan asked, here are the clones of This Army Life!

Number One:
This clone is the only perfect clone of Sephiroth and has the number one tattooed on his wrist. Personality wise, he's a much more relaxed version of the General, though he does have his 'Nibelheim delenda est' moments. He has a thing for Aeris.

Number Two:
This clone is the total invention of the Crow That Caws At Half Pass Six. He is a Hojo wannabe, and is honestly better than the good doctor, but Number One keeps him in line.

Number Three:
If Sephiroth ever turned into a California surfer dude, he'd be Number Three.

Number Four:
If Sephiroth ever went into the punk rock scene,he'd be Number Four.

Number Six:
A misshapen, green skinned, dog like Sephiroth. He loves frisbee, pizza, and licking peoples faces. He does, occasionally, like to prove that he is just as intelligent as his siblings, just not often.

Number Seven:
Seven is a basic clone of normal intelligence. He's a great singer and directs the Jenova Mako-Chamber Choir.

Clone Eight:
Makes a brief appearance. Basic clone.

Clone Ten:
Makes a brief appearance. Basic clone.

Number Thirteen and Fourteen:
A set of clone twins. Thirteen is the girl. She was recently given a growth serum, but now is back to normal. Here is the fan art Koi-Chi drew of them!

Clone 15:
Member of the Jenova Mako-Chamber Choir.

Clone 25:
Member of the Jenova Mako-Chamber Choir.

Number 43:
This clone loves to talk and wants desperately to be experimented on.

Clone 56:
An amorphous blob with an excellent singing voice. Don't ask how that works, I don't know. Member of the Jenova Mako-Chamber Choir.

There are thousands of clones, but only a few make it into the story. The clones have decided that they won't be numbered anymore and the new ones will have names like Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. The baby sister mentioned in Episode 24 will be named Lu. Short for Lucretia.


Games, Games, and, uh, Games

Gamasutra has a list of the games that advanced story telling. Without these games, we wouldn't have had games like dot.Hack, Beyond Good and Evil, and FFX. Say what you want about them, they offered up story elements that just didn't happen before and made you see things in a different way.

Destructoid, on the other hand, has a list of the best levels from various games. Avis Praeda from SotC makes an appearance in the list. RevAnthony said that if you play this level and don't feel remorse, you need help. Well, while I did feel sad, I didn't feel like I was a complete chode monkey until Cladeds Candor. I seriously wanted to give up playing after I dropped the building on him. His face being smashed in didn't help either.

I know I'm a girl, but I'm also a gamer. If you play this game and think it's worthless, you aren't. Enough said.


Cure on the Horizon

Game Politics has a great article on using video games to treat ADHD. Check it out.


Scared... of the PS3

Did you see the new PS3 comercial? The one that aired during monday night football?


It was creepy.



How is this going to sell the PS3?

I mean, after a horrifying entrance at E3, a bad demo, and the unit being too expensive as it is, how, after this, are they going to sell the thing?


Trogdor and Guitar Hero

Does anyone have anything substantial about this?

Is Trogdor a Guitar Hero track?

A friend saw this link on VG Cats and zipped it off to me. Is it real? I must know!!!!

UPDATE: Trogdor is on Guitar Hero 2!!!

More about Jack

Yes, we have more about Jack Thompson, but rest assured, it is juicy!

The judge in the contempt case has recused himself...

Because the judge is filing a complaint against Thompson himself!!!!

Well, Jack is free from jail at present but the contempt case is being transferred to another judge.

Thanks to GamePolitics for the update.
And to Destructoid for the footage of the hearing.



As the amount of 'violence' in video games goes up, the actual instances of violent crime go down.

Check it out here.

Think of it as an addendum to yesterdays rant.


Voltaire had it right

Voltaire (the French satirist, not the singer) said: I have prayed but one prayer. Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And he granted it.

Jack Thompson has landed himself in some pretty hot water over the Bully Fiasco. Thanks to Game Politics for the report.

There's been a lot of screaming about Bully.

Let me rephase that.

There's been a lot of morons screaming about Bully.

Instead of griping, head down to Blockbuster and rent a copy. Don't say you think it's dangerous unless you've played the game. You all sound like Donna Shalala who didn't see the tape of her students beating the crap out of other players and made her judgements on what others told her. Stop making judgements based on what others tell you and see for yourself.

Our enemies, oh video game enthusiasts, are ridiculous. Thank God.

I mean, God forbid, we have a video game that encourages making friends across cliques, teaches advanced inter-socialization, assertiveness, attentiveness in class (you need to go to class in this game and get good grades to perform necessary functions later), ingenuity, daring, courage, that being bad get's you in trouble, and to stand up to bullies!!!!

What happened to the culture of teaching our children not to bully others and to stand up to bullies? The only people who think learning to stand up to bullies in a mature fashion is a bad idea are people the most afraid of bullies. They spent their lives trying to kowtow to these people to avoid physical and emotional pain.

I've seen these people. I work with them. They cringe in fear of the 'higher ups' and the mean clients. I can't stand the sense of awe they treat me with because I do the right thing and stand up to the bullies. And the bullies treat me with respect because I stood up to them.

Bully is a video game with out one drop of blood shed. "Weapons" break within three swats. Playing hookie nets you detention. Getting caught out late nets you a trip to the principal's office. Doing something bad nets you punishment. Where else are you going to get that?

Apparently, not at Miami.


Steam Punk to the Max

Check out this piece of steam punk goodness!

I wonder if I could swing this one by my Iron Kingdoms GM....?



The Real Brain Game

Washington University in St. Louis has hooked a kid up to a video game... which he plays with his brain. This is so cool! The link includes a video of the kid playing the game.

While the whole thing seems frivolous and sci-fi-ish, it has a lot of implications for artificial limb construction. Imagine, after permanently losing a limb, to have a new one that responds to impulses from your brain, just like a natural arm or leg.


Comfort Games

The New Gamer Journal has posted on comfort games. Like comfort food, these are the games that keep you sane after stressful days, weeks, or months. Check the link for the list on New Gamer. Here are mine. What are yours?

Shadow Hearts (PS2)- the Original. I play this game whenever I want something comfortable and familiar, but also, deep and creepy. I have a running game saved on my memory card to pick up any time I want.

SimCity (PSX) - give me a box of Russian tea cakes and controller. I won't move for hours. This game got me through some tough semesters in college, and gained me 20lbs.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSX) - If I want a little fun, SotN always provides 32bit goodness (as well as jokes about Gaibon and Slogra).

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
(PS2) - because sometimes you need to beat something to death, and a whip just makes it fun.

Rayman (Jaguar and PSX) - here's a blast from the past. The original Atari man will have me glued to a screen for days for some comfort play with a guy that has no arms and no legs.

Runner Up:
Bubble Bobble 2: Rainbow Island


New Games!

We got two new games yesterday: Valkerie Profile: Silmeria and Dirge of Cerebus.

My husband, a big VP fan, started Silmeria and I started Dirge of Cerebus when he took a break.

We immediately realized two things:
1. We had each chosen to play games directly out of our interest range.
2. We were both in need of serious practice to play either of them.

VP: Silmeria is a new style of RPG, part turn based/part platform. Each character is controlled by an assigned button. No fancy fighting moves (other than finishing strikes), just a lot of savage pack attacking with license to button mash. My husband is enjoying it, but a lot of the game play and atmosphere is much more my style of game.

Dirge of Cerebus is a first person shooter. Of course, you can change the camera angle at anytime to walk around as Vincent and the camera automatically changes for a limit break. The controls, my husband tells me, are exactly the same as Mercenaries. You direct Vincent with the left analog, but camera angle and aim for the gun happens with the right analog. Oh, and you have to count bullets. I'm really liking the game (the mounted gun turrets are awesome!) but this game is more my husband's style.

Needless to say, we were thanking God for the tutorials. Dirge of Cerebus' tutorial is out of game and has two modes. VP: Silmeria's tutorial is in game. The funniest part about all of this is watching us *not* take advice from each other. Platforms are my bag, baby! But trying to show my husband the way through a dungeon can be killer. And shooters love my husband, but man am I bad handing over the controller for pointers.

Maybe I should look at this as a sort of marriage therapy where we learn to take each other's advice better?

Casual and Avid

There's been some buzz lately about casual gaming: people who play a game for 30 minutes to an hour before going on to do something else with their time. Some of these gamers, sighting family and other obligations, complain about how the best games out there aren't designed for that sort of play and they end up missing out, or never finishing a game.

Stop crying.

I have a packed life. Ask my husband sometime how much I do in a day. But I always have time for a long, drawn out game. (And if I hear any whining about save points, while I write this, I will thwap you.)

All games, especially the long, drawn out RPGs and Adventure types with in depth stories, are all, essentially, mission based. You complete the story by parts. You finish part one and go on to part two. Simple. Each of these parts will usually take an hour to complete and longer ones provide save points. You have an hour before the kids come home and dinner is ready? Pop in that disk!

So playing for an hour doesn't get you into 'the zone.' So what? It doesn't for me either. I still managed to beat Kingdom Hearts II in less than 26 hours by playing for an hour every morning before work. And I'm no spring chicken. I don't have the coordination I should (if Dirge of Cerebus is any indication :P ).

Let's take a moment to go back to the article linked at the top. Check out the survey results.

Older gamers still play everyday. So they aren't hard-core. That doesn't mean that can't make the long game.

I read an article somewhere (please forgive me I can't find or remember the link, another sign of my age) where the gamer complained that he couldn't finish all the games he played because of kids and work, and to top that off, new ones came out all the time. Cry me a river.

I don't see the massive influx of games a horrible thing. There's always a loll in good games part way through the year when previously released good ones go down in price (saving you money). Play what you've got, wait a bit on the good ones, and continue to play.

Heck, do what my friend Amy does. Her whole family shares a game. Mom, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, and kids all play a game together, allowing you to see the story even if you aren't playing it.

I love Final Fantasy, but for some reason, I can't ever get past the first twenty minutes of any of the games (I mentioned Dirge of Cerebus so I'd like to point out that a first person shooter Final Fantasy doesn't count). And I get way too anxious with games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. So I let someone else play and watch while doing something else. I don't feel like I've missed out on the game because I wasn't gripping the controller, and neither will you.

So stop griping about not being able to play a game. No one is requiring you to play 8-10 hour sessions. Turning a big rpg, adventure, or in depth story game into a family activity will solve your problem, introduce your children to good gameplay and sharing habits, and still give you the satisfaction of a job well done.

Gamasutra's Quantum Leap Awards

Gamasutra gave out a few awards for role playing games that advanced their genre and left us breathless for more. Enjoy!



I am getting ready to start a few cosplay costumes for myself and friends, but until I had some pictures, I thought I'd give you guys some cool cosplay links.



Here are some great cosplayers. I chose costumes based on sewing prowess and make up.

Aerith from FF7 - This girl has Aerith down.

A Kyungup Hyun illustration brought to life. - I've seen a few people do this for Amy Brown's work. Beautiful!

Nazgul - Check out those gauntlets!

Auron - I think he should have frosted his hair more, but the costume is fantastic.

Dalek - an unconventional and awesome costume.

Cosplay hints and help:

* Work with the body you've got.
I could never pull off Yuna, Rikku, or any other super skinny girl and I don't try because it makes the costume I worked so hard on look really bad. This also works in reverse. A 120lb girl cannot pull off Lulu.

* Take your time.
Don't rush a costume. I tried rushing a Lenneth (Valkyrie Profile) costume for a friend and ended up with a bad looking helmet.

* You don't need expensive materials.
All you need is time and a careful hand.

* If it isn't right, rip it apart, and start again.
I did a Lulu costume for one of my students and ended up tearing the skirt apart twice before I got it right.

* Watch the gender bending.
Some guys can pull of girls and with the massive amount of bishies out there, some girls can certainly pull off guys. My friend Julia pulled off a spectaular Link (Zelda) and here is a great Roxas (Kingdom Hearts). But here's a word of warning: I don't care how much you love the show/character/anime/video game no one wants to see this, this , or this.

* A good wig costs money but manipulating your hair looks better.
If I weren't an 200lb woman, I'd have an Albel (Star Ocean 3) costume bagged in three months just by letting my hair grow out so all I'd have is blonde tips. Cheap wigs are a pain to manipulate. If you go with one, get instructions on how to style doll wigs. Good wigs are expensive, as are falls and wefts. If you put the money into a wig, take care of it and practice wearing it. But remember, you can always grow your hair out.

* Get a copy of any of Kevin Lecoin's books.
The man was THE make up master and will show you how to make yourself look like any one or anything.

And last but not least: Lee Teng-hui cosplays!


Up Coming Suck

Dick McVengeance over at Video Game Blog and Forums has made a list of video game movies...

and tells us how much they are likely to suck.


PS - Dave! There's going to be a Prince of Persia movie!!!


Cool with a Twist

For the 10th anniversary of Resident Evil, Japan is celebrating...

with stamps!

Corny as it sounds, this is really cool.


Hyper Sphere

I haven't posted a free game in a while.

Here's Hyper Sphere.

Navigate your little sphere through some interesting terrain. Watch for cannons and bugs while you nab rubies!

You need Flash 8 for this game.

How People make it Easy to Rob them

Dumb Little Man's blog illustrates the danger of having to much personal info on line.


Ten Myths of Gaming

Lloyd Case brings us a very well thought out article on Ten Myths of Gaming, hitting violence in games and hand held games being too simple. Here's a quick run down, and my two cents.

Myth 1: The Playstation 3 will fail.
I don't agree with Lloyd on this one. I firmly believe, based on historical evidence, that the PS3 will fail.

Myth 2: PC Games are doomed.
I'm really tired of hearing this one. It's just like the board game contingent. Whenever something knew in gaming comes out, people scream that board games are going to die. Just shut it. If all the MMOGs, Sims, and 88th installment of Myst is any indication, PC games are here to stay with all their gooey goodness.

Myth 3:You need a $500 graphics card.
What? Since when? Midranged hardware will do you well. The only people who need $500 graphics cards are movie studio editting rooms and digital preservation departments in large research libraries. (A plug for Sarah and Jules.)

Myth 4: Comsole Games are for twich players.
I guess these people never heard of RPGs, very few of which aren't turn based and need no button mashing.

Myth 5: Handheld games are for kids.
That's why I own a GBA and a DS. Because I'm not an adult with a degree, a well paying job, and a husband. I'm two and love games like Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem, Golden Sun, and Kingdom Hearts. Give me a break.

Myth 6: Console Games are too simple.
Get off the PC gaming pedestal! Down! Right now! If I have to hear that Final Fantasy X, Shadow of the Colossus, Halo, Parasite Eve, Beyond Good and Evil, and Shadow Hearts are simple games one more time, I'm going to tie every single 'PC only' gamer down and make them figure out that Tidus is dead before you get to Zanarkand.

Myth 7: PC Games are too complicated.
Yeah. Solitaire and Mine Sweeper are complicated. Yes, Myst was in depth, complicated, and its sequel, Riven, was almost impossible, but PC games have exactly the same amount of difficultly and story as any console game: as much as the developers put in it.

Myth 8: PC Copy protection is too onerous.
One bad apple ruins the bunch, eh? But let's remember people: the sale of these games puts food on someone's table, and if you want to see more good games, you are going to have to vote with your cash.

Myth 9: Games are too violent.
Jack Thompson anyone? First it was Dungeons and Dragons. And then it was Vampire: The Masquerade. And now it's video games. Everything is the cause of society's ills except... society. Grow up and show some responsibility. Video games, when taken on the whole, aren't violent. The most violent game I've ever seen is God of War, and do we hear an up roar about that? No, we hear about Grand Theft Auto because a bunch of morons refuse to be held accoutnable for their actions. It's like saying your rice crispies made you do something.

Myth 10: I'm embarrassed about gaming.
Why? It's a multi-billion dollar industry covering everything from board games to video games. Everyone games in some way, shape, or form whether playing Texas Hold'em Poker or Pokemon. I'm a gamer and I'm proud of it! Because of gaming, I've become a better multi-tasker and am less stressed in a very stressful job. Because of gaming, I've acted as an official consultant to large library systems looking to introduce gaming to pull more people into the library. And it works too.

You are a gamer. Shout it from the roof tops!

Video games are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.


Rikku: Age 82

You are never too old to game.


Just Because You Have a PhD

doesn't mean you know what you're doing.

Or that you're smart.

I'm not going to repeat the whole argument for you, so here are the links to the articles:

How the Government is Hearing Flawed Research
Violent Pac-Man Researcher Responds
Responding to Dr. Thompson

I work for a large research library at an even bigger university. So, I'm going to tell you exactly what this is all about: recognition, funding, and tenure.

As the government weighs in whether or not to censor my video game enjoyment, someone with a PhD stands up and throws a highly suspect study into the mix. This gives the professor, national recognition (no matter how dubious), moneys and grants for further research and projects, and a spot among the tenured elite of their university.

Using absolutely rediculous research standards, a professor will throw out a blatant, politically motivated piece of drivel in an effort to get the big 3: money, recognition, tenure.

So let's se how this adds up to Dr. Thompson:
Dr. Thompson runs KidsRisk, a project that needs funding. (moneys and grants)
Dr. Thomspon runs an open course called
Probabilistic Risk Analysis: Assessment, Management, and Communication, which is needs enrollment to continue. (recognition)
Dr. Thompson is an associate professor, which means she does not have tenure. (tenure)

Now, I'm all for game control. A ten year old should not be playing Grand Theft Auto, but the ESRB system works just fine. The only people who object to it are those who are too lazy to turn the game box over and read why the game has a particular rating. But all of this research means nothing when you take into account that average video game buyer is 37 years old. And we aren't talking about parents buying for children. We are talking about people buying the games for themselves. Thanks to the media, we have an over inflated view of exactly how many children are playing video games.

I remember being a kid. I had school all day and homework when I got home... in second grade. I didn't have time to play video games. The video games I managed to play have a special place in my heart for their corny graphics, and the hours of fun provided to my brother and I solving puzzles together. Homework these days is longer, more complex, and once it is done, the child still has to show up for a myriad of school and extra curricular activities. I give my little sister a game for Christmas and she
might have it finished by next Christmas.

Remember PhD does not equal smart.
No PhD does not equal stupid.

I've seen to many people with advanced degrees who are so functionally illterate its scary. I've had professors argue with me over research and policy so often, it'd make your head spin.

And before I leave, how about a low blow:

No gamer should ever trust someone with the last name Thompson.

Makes you wonder if there's any relation, huh?


Castlevania update

1up.com's Kurt Kalata has written a great article on the 20th anniversary of my favorite of franchises: Castlevania.

Also, here's the latest version of a homebrew Castlevania Chronicles: Dracula's Curse for PC.


Making Buttons

just making buttons!
feel free to steal!

Motivational Posters

for Gamers.


SanDisk Vs iPod: Round One!

SanDisk is stepping up to the iPod challenge!

Apple has market saturation, iTunes, and a hard drive loaded into every iPod.

SanDisk has lower prices, the ability to play WMA and MP3, and a flash drive, which SanDisk makes.

Apple has ridiculously high prices for their machines, can only play M4P, and a recall on half of its batteries.

SanDisk has lower capacity, small market share, and bad advertising.

So who will win this battle of the bands?

My money is on Microsoft.

Didn't see that one coming, huh?

Microsoft has proven time and again that they can come in and steal any thunder Apple has or tries to make. So the iPod's been around a while and has iTunes? So what? All of the iPods are terribly overpriced. Plenty of small companies are putting out MP3 players with just as much capacity as an iPod that can store more music. iPod's single file style will kill it.

My MSI mega stick has the same capacity as the iPod Shuffle 512, cost me less, has a screen that let's me see my music, plays MP3 and WMA, and holds more files.

I'll be perfectly honest here: I don't want an iPod unless I can get the sucker free. Hence the 'Evil iPod Designs' to the right. And if my touching it can kill iPod, all the better.

Google as Artifical Intelligence

Here's an interesting concept.

Go feed your brain.


Sand Circles

Called 'Fairy Circles,' they appear to be the desert equivalent of crop circles.

Check it out here.

Geezer Gaming

Richard at Aeropause talks about the aging of the gamer population.

Being 2 years and 3 months from the big three-oh myself, I wonder if we'll ever see the promised Duke Nukem, or if I should be satisfied with Mario 4000.

Super Mario Parkour

David Bell does parkour Mario style.


Dervish Warjack

I am such an Iron Kingdoms geek.


User Created Video Games

Microsoft is breaking out XNA Game Studio Express. This little piece of love brings me one step closer to buying the Xbox 360 (I mean besides Enchanted Arms).

XNA will allow users to create video games on the PC for the Xbox. By joining a 'creator's club' for $99 (annually), you can share, test, and get some feed back for what you've created.

Finally, you won't have to be an employee to a large developer (or have a ton of your own equipment), to make your own, complete, and unconfusing, version of Final Fantasy VII.

(We love you Nomura, but man...)


An Open Letter to All Companies Who Oppose Net Neutrality

Do you like money?

Sure! We all do! Everyone would like to make more money than they currently do.

But charging a website money so their page loads faster is NOT going to make you money.

In fact, it will cost you money. And we aren't talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but millions.

This is why:

There are millions of websites. They are owned by the millions of customers who pay for high speed internet access.
Your customers pay you to make every page they make or see load quickily and flawlessly. If you make one page load faster based on how much that site pays you, you are stiffing the customers who pay you to make every page load fast. If the pages aren't going to load at the same rate, why should the average joe (from whom you make most of your money) pay for anything more than dial up? And dial up, by the way, is free for a lot of people through work and school.

You will be forced to hire a large number of technical and service staff to speed up and slow down paying or non-paying websites.
The cost of staffing for such a foolish endeavor is more than you ever plan to make. With the internet working on minutes and seconds rather than days and weeks, you will need 24 hour coverage for every site that pays or doesn't pay you to load at certain speeds.

Gutting net neutrality will 'carve up' the internet and lead to losses from dissatisfied customers.
Let's pretend you are Verizon. A large company, such as Amazon, pays you to load their site faster than Alibris. Alibris pays Time Warner to load their site faster than Amazon. The end result is that neither of the websites get what they pay for because they are shelling out cash to two different companies. Only Verizon customers will see a faster load for Amazon, and customers that don't use Verizon at all won't see a change in the load time.

You will not gain customers based on certain websites loading faster.
The internet users of the world do not use the internet to look at large companies everyday. Large companies, if stupid enough to pay you, will be lumped together as part of an elite few that will be protested against for going along with your mad scheme. And let's face it, after the forty-billionth pr0n site pays you to load them faster, the majority of internet users will be very, very angry.

You will lose market share and stock prices will drop from your lack of innovation.
The investment savvy call this type of suicide an 'IBM.' I.e. everyone makes the mistake of picking up this clunker because it should do well in a portfolio and never does, because they never do anything. The resistance to innovation on the internet will lead to the stifling of young companies that would make you lots of money later in life - if they weren't killed by your 'must have it now' type of greed.

When you charge websites to to load faster, you inevitably kill small websites that people use daily.
Small websites that people use daily? Whatever could those be? I'm talking about doctor's office websites, church websites, public library websites, small town governing websites. These are small websites that people use everyday and if access to them is cut off by your greed, you will have millions of unhappy customers ready to burn down your offices.

You will be bombarded by class action, anti-trust, and discrimination law suits.
Charging people for their website to load faster is a form of discrimination. Every person and company that owns a website already pays for internet service and pay seperate fees to have domain names, server space, and bandwidth. To charge more based on page loading time (and eventually to even load at all) is discriminatory to all websites and businesses who depend on the internet and are not loaded with money. You will face class action from consumers who paid premium prices for cable modems only to have the websites they want to see slow to a crawl. You will face anti-trust lawsuits from small businesses whose competition you are trying to kill by gutting net neutrality.

All the fees you charge to companies for faster loading times will be passed to your customers in the form of extra fees for services.
So not only will you be steering people in the direction of bad customer service, you will make them pay for it as well. And since we are already paying for internet service, it's another reason to drop to a cheaper, local, dial-up.

You are putting too much emphasis on money to realize that if customers are forced to deal with longer loading times on their favorite sites, they will not go to the quick loading websites out of spite.
In psychology, it's called being passive-aggressive. In business terms, it means that the 'second class citizens' you create on the web will use the 'second class websites' for information and services and therefore, deny you money.

Gutting net neutrality shows your customers that you do not know how the internet works and do not have the technical know how to even attempt what you propose.
We aren't stupid. We know that you're making obscene amounts of money off of us for internet access. But that you honestly believe that websites should pay you to load faster shows you don't have the technical know how to even run your own company. If terms like bandwidth and domain confuse you, you should put your lobbyist back in its box and back away before you lose millions of dollars. Having worked for many business, large and small, I've learned a thing or two about committing business suicide. This is business suicide.

The minute you manage to get this law signed, you will truly learn the meaning of the word 'hacker.'
This is not a threat. This is a promise. Net Neutrality means everyone has a fair shot at the information and services they want and need. No one appreciates having the services and information they want kept from them, least of all hackers. You will be forced to hire a large number of technical staff to combat the daily rage of viruses, cracked security, hacked flaws, and stolen information. This is on top of the technical staff and service staff mentioned above.

You already charge the big websites just to use the internet.

Stop being greedy. The big websites (and the little ones) already pay you an arm and a leg to be out there with everything from domain name fees to bandwidth.

In the end, gutting net neutrality for profit, will only lead to you losing money in embarassing and frustrating ways.

So listen up: If you want to make a profit, do what good businesses do: treat your customer base like gold, practice good customer service, and resist the need to be greedy. Money goes to companies with sparkling reputations. And cheaters only go to jail (Enron).

One last quick note to Congress:
Killing net neutrality will hurt you too. Whether or not you use the internet, you can bet your re-election that your constituents do. And wouldn't it just suck if you lost re-election because joe-bob's website loaded faster than yours? And wouldn't it suck if your website loaded really fast and everyone ditched your sell-out, fat cat ass for an up and comer? Choose wisely, grass hopper. We are watching you.


The Dream is Alive!

E3 was the dream of many a gamer. Being trade only, you had to work for someone, have a press pass, or be lucky enough to be invited by an exhibitor. Now that E3 has tanked, it seems our dreams are crushed.

Or are they?

With E3 downsizing, someone will have to take the reigns and PAX stands ready to make a monkey out of ESA.

As Gabe wrote: We already knew PAX was the best gaming festival in North America and after today's announcement from the ESA it's also the biggest. With a projected attendace of something like 13 thousand people and exhibitors like Nintendo, Ubisoft, Microsoft and ATI PAX is in position to pick up where E3 left off. Apparently we're not the only ones who noticed either.

And PAX, being the smart con that it is, is open to the public and gamer centric. Gamers of all manner will soon have access to what was only dreamed of before: E3 material. No longer will I be forced to watch E3 from the puter screen and rely on the words of often biassed insiders. No longer will I have to sit through endless articles about multi-million dollar deals to find out that Assassin's Creed is looking great.

And whether ESA wants to admit it or not, exhibitors want these collosal venues to show their stuff.

In a place like PAX, they won't get dollar driven feedback. They will get HONEST feedback.

Real gamers, as in the ones spending the money, will tell them what they want and will even go so far as to tell them how to do it. The advice comes free and isn't 'test marketted.' Games that gamers want (Beyond Good and Evil) will get noticed by fans, generate their own buzz, and explode onto the market.

This beautiful thing should have happened years ago. The Dream is Alive! Give gaming to the Geeks!


E3 Stupidity

I don't have words for this, so we'll just let Gabe say it.

The only up shot is that smaller venues will see more people and, hopefully, more people will get to play test the new stuff instead of a select few.


Gayest Game Characters

Gaygamer.net has listed the 20 gayest video game characters ever!

My favorite on the list is #5: The King of the Cosmos! (Katamari Damacy)

Joachim (of Shadow Hearts fame) makes the list.

The list misses a few I would add, so here we go:

Isaac (Castlevania: Curse of Darkness)
When we first saw him, we all quoted Cartmen: "Gayer than gay come to gay town on the gay bus." He's sick and super cool, and very, very gay.

Keith (Shadow Hearts)
You see him surrounded by women and the conversations had with the girls classify him as heterosexual. But, man does he flame out when he gets the family sword. (Get your head out of the gutter!)

Walter (Castlevania: Lament of innocence)
This vamp mugged Tim Curry in a back alley for those fantastic boots. Everyone's first thought when they finally met Walter in the game was: Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

And because I can't help myself:
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy 7)
He looks awesome in ways that can't be defined, but man, the gay jokes just roll of the tongue.


I was a Pastafarian...

Welcome to your new religion.

Back from the 2nd Vacation!

And the only thing I have to report is that I beat Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for the thirtieth time, I watch Advent Children three times, I took a morning walk on the beach seven times, I went swimming in the ocean forty times, I went to a water park and mini golf once, I ate a lot of sea food, and...

My brother finally got engaged!

About damn time. Full details pending at Library Drone.

So since I'm on a wedding high:

Here's a cake
Here's a guy who'd make a good DJ.
And here's a guy who'd make a good wedding crasher.

So none of the above have anything to do with weddings. Sue me.

Awesome Vinter Raelthorne though.


When I was 20

I could have gotten away with this costume.

Still, the Cult of the Princess Leia Bikini lives on.

Trying to make it to vacation.

I've got two days to go... I can make it! I can make it! Quizzes and Stumble Upon will see me through!

You scored as Riku. You are Riku! Riku is Kairi and Sora's best friend. Neither Kairi or Sora know where he is but Riku is trying to help fight organization thirteen and undo the damage he has caused to himself. He is not on the side of darkness or light but is inbetween. He and Sora have always been rivals.











Ansem the wise




What Kingdom Hearts 2 character are you? pics included. (i love comments. Send comments!)
created with QuizFarm.com


PC vs Mac

Do you hate those damn PC vs Mac commercials.

Me too.

What an insult to my intelligence.

Here, the PC strikes back!

I hear ya

OMG! Girlz Don't Exist on teh Intarweb!!!1

Remember that whole rant on the objectification of women in video games?

This is another reason why girls hate it:

Because guys think that we can't possibly want to play games.

I couldn't possibly want to play Red Ninja (and cut my enemies in half).
I couldn't possibly want to play GTA (and gun down annoying passersby).
I couldn't possibly want to play Tomb Raider (and blow stuff up).
I'm a girl and I couldn't possibly need stress relief.


I had this problem on Poppit! once, in chat. People assummed I was a guy because I decided to use my initials and a random number for my screen name instead of something 'cute' (read: sickening).

Why do I have to prove that I'm a girl? Why is a guy accepted immediately, but girls are required to post pics? Why do guys on the internet assume that girls who use the internet and/or game are ugly?

And if you don't think they assume that, post a pic and watch them scream that it's not you because you look good.

It's one of the reasons I don't post pictures of myself.


iPod Experiment

I've been told (and seen proof on a few websites) that I can get a free iPod with this service. If you are interested in helping me out, or at trying for a free iPod yourself, click the link below:

iPod for Nicolle

Do I think I'm hypocritical for trying this when I hate iPods? Yes. But I want to make a cephaloPod.

(It's a Call of Cthulhu joke.)

Pimp that Cell Phone

for the chocobo side!

(If have no idea what I'm talking about, go here.)

Pimp it, Cloud baby!

Sony: Digging Our Own Grave So You Don't Have Too

Sony, after the snafu of the graffiti ads, have decided that they hadn't been offensive enough.

For the release of the PSP in white (as opposed to the typical black colored console), Sony has devised an ad in which a white girl with white hair in white clothing is abusing a black woman.

Sony says that the ad will be controversial. (No shit, Sherlock.)

When asked to comment on the debate, a Sony rep told GameSpot News: "The marketing campaign for the launch of the white PSP in the Netherlands focuses on the contrast between the Black PSP model and the new Ceramic White PSP model. A variety of different treatments have been created as a campaign to either highlight the whiteness of the new model or contrast the black and the white models. Central to this campaign has been the creation of some stunningly photographed imagery that has been used on large billboards throughout Holland. All of the images created for the campaign have been designed to show this contrast in colors of the PSP's, and have no other message or purpose."

No other message or purpose? I can tell you what the message and purpose is:

The Message: We suck. Dump our product.
The Purpose: Company suicide with the option of selling to the highest bidder, probably Microsoft.

Here's the official Dutch PSP website with more of the ads.


Back from Origins

I'm back! And I have more Cthulu stuff than evar!

Here's how it all went down:

We (Dave, Jules, Sarah, and I) left on thursday and made it into Ohio around 5:30pm. We checked in before wandering around the convention center and getting our barrings.

My Events:

I started out as a board gamer (thanks to my parents), but have played nothing but RPGs since leaving home. So my events were mostly board games.

Haunting House by Twilight Creations
Haunting House is a board game in which you are trying to get out of a haunted house first. The basic game is $20 and the expansions are $10 each. The game involves some strategy as you move the halls of the house around to make yourself a path to get out.

How cool was it?: I bought the game and after winning a certificate for $10.00 off, bought both expansions.

Call of Cthulu Movie by Shoggoth.net
A black and white, silent film adaptation of the 'Call of Cthulu' by H.P. Lovecraft. The movie was done in the true 1920s style with 1920's special effects. The scene with the white-haired, eye patch wearing scholar was funny, but the rest, especially the exploration of R'Lyeh, was extremely creepy.

How cool was it?: We bought the DVD before we even saw it!

Descent by Fantasy Flight Games
A board game version of the video game, Descent is a dungeon crawl where terrain and portals to town are your best friends. The best part of the game was the people I played with: they were a bunch of older, experienced, strategy gamers ready to take the game master down.

How cool was it?: The game, at a whopping $80.00, was not worth the money. Yes, it had $80.00 worth of stuff in the box. Though the mechanics were cool, you can find better dungeon crawls in D&D.

Everybody Versus Andy! with Andy Looney of Looney Labs
This was awesome! I intended to challenge Andy to Fluxx. I ended up sitting next to Liam (a Looney Labs guy) and learning how to play Aquarius. We played both games against Andy at once with five different people.

How cool was it?: I already owned a copy of Fluxx, so after the game, I went to pick up a copy of Aquarius. The Looney Labs people caught me and got me to play Tree House. I left the vendor with Eco-Fluxx, Aquarius, and Tree House.

Fury of Dracula by Fantasy Flight Games
Here's a board game that has you roaming all over Europe in search of the Count. After almost finding and then losing him, we trapped Dracula in Liverpool and beat him to death! I got to deal the last blow, which makes sense since I was playing Van Helsing.

How cool was it?: Fury of Dracula was fun, but it honestly takes everyone knowing the rules to play. When a gamer jumped in late, he never actually caught up on the rules, which slowed play down and confused combat. I'm going to give it another shot next year and I may yet pick it up. At $50.00 (which it does have fifty dollars worth of stuff) I will wait on it.

I signed up for more events but ended up trading in a few of my tickets so I had more time to roam the dealer's room, which leads us too:

The Dealer's Room

A lot of dealers didn't set up until saturday and some weren't there until sunday. Which, of course, is not good for people who want time to decide on big purchases and ultimately leave without making them. A lot booths I knew were there, but I couldn't find them.

Best Booth
Renaissance Fashions - the owner looked like Bruce Campbell, I kid you not, and was just as entertaining. He and his wife were extremely knowledgeable and fitted me in several corsets before selling me on a full purple dragon brocade corset. When all was said and done, I was a very happy customer!

Worst Booth
Bellydancer Booth - that's just what I'm calling it since it didn't have a posted sign, and the dealre didn't offer one up. The booth was chock full of stuff - with absolutely no organization. Everything was extremely overpriced. The owner of the booth was pagan, which I don't mind, but 25% of their stock was pagan wall hangings and statues that had nothing to do with belly dancing. A belly dancing enthusiast speaking with the husband of the proprietor was lied to repeatedly about the workmanship and cost of materials. When I suggested the girl check out Fire Mountain Gems for cowrie shells, the man told her that anything he got her would be cheaper. And I was so out of there.

The Bellydancing booth was so terrible, it beat all of the bad booths. But I will mention one more stinker: Bandai. Bandai showed up, took up a large amount of space, and only sold Naruto stuff. Way to go, morons.

Honorable Mentions:
Mongoose Publishing - not the best rpg materials out there, but they had a girl in a chain mail bikini behind the table, so they made money had over fist!

Pokemon - I think it's drivel, but the kids love it and the booth caterred to all with large, blow-up pokemon, a Mewtwo roaming the area for hugs, and tourney.

Steve Jackson Games - The dealers were funny, knowledgeable, and willing to do just about anything to pimp their product, including their large amount of Cthulhu merchandise.

In a league of their own:
Crazy Egor - if you don't know about Crazy Egor, you aren't a gamer. Crazy Egor has been in the biz for years providing the world with new and used games. Looking for something rare or almost unfindable, Crazy Egor has it.

The Convention Center
The convention center was fantastic! You never had to settle for bad food with a food court filled with sushi, pizza, subway, hamburgers, cheesesteaks, and a breakfast diner. The center had appealling, wide open spaces, spatious walk ways, and plenty of escelators. The skywalk attaching the hotels to the center was beautiful, completely enclosed, and allowed you to view the city and the sky line.

Best: The place had wall to wall carpetting just about everywhere and it made a difference for my tired feat.

Worst: The eateries closed up way too soon, leaving hungry people scrambling after midnight.

Best: The all of the volunteers were friendly, helpful, and didn't treat you like an idiot when what you were looking for was right behind you.

Worst: There was no way in which to notify attendees of room changes and cancelled events. After the snafu of the pre-registration on-line, this should not have happened.


We stayed at the Crowne Plaza. It was expensive and worth every penny spent. The valets, the desk staff, and housekeeping did a spectacular job.

Best: The cafe down stairs, though expensive, was very tasty.

Worst: Max and Erma's, the restaurant in the building, was low on staff for the entire weekend and during the breakfast rush, that was a bad thing.

Best: The pretension was at an all time low. Amazing for a place filled with so many LARPers.

Worst: Not enough people dressed up. Seriously. I saw a spectacular Capt. Jack Sparrow, a great 'singer' Yuna, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and a storm trooper in full uniform. And that's about it.

All in all, we had a great time.

If you are looking to go to Origins next year, here are a few tips:

The hotels attached to the convention center are expesive, but worth every penny.
The Japanese Steakhouse is great and not as expensive as advertised.
Go in costume.
Try new games.
Remember to eat.
Have fun!

Me out.


Castlevania Movie

My worst fears and hopes are soon to clash. Castlevania will be a movie.

Writers are hoping to take the franchise into the film arena with a movie on Dracula's origins and the fight with the Belmonts. Whether or not it will be a movie version of Lament of Innocence is yet to be seen. Though the original announcement came out in 2005, it wasn't until now that we're hearing some real buzz. The film will be written and directed by Paul Anderson and produced by Jeremy Bolt.

Bolt is responsible for the Resident Evil films and Anderson is responsible for the Mortal Kombat films.

Take that as you will.

As a Castlevania whore, I am crossing my fingers and praying it won't be totally lame. But I know I'm going to be crying.

Bolt is promising homage to the previous games and the appearance of Vampire Killer.

All I have to say is that Konami better release a really good game at the same time to make up for the future debacle.

To clean the palette, here's some new Portrait of Ruin shots.

Steam Power

Now if you look down the blog, you'll see a list of favs. In there is the fantastic Iron Kingdoms setting, which is a D&D world built on steam power! They have trains, guns, and steamjacks: steam powered mechs. And while many would think such a thing unlikely, if not outright impossible, here's a bunch of kids proving you wrong by starting small:

Steam Powered Robots


iPods suck

I don't understand the lure of the iPod. Maybe it's because I have an MP3 player that works better than an iPod.

Anyway, the pod is taking over our lives

I am in full support of sites like SmashMyiPod.

Do I think the donated money could be put to better use? Yes.
Do I think that a charity donation would be as entertaining? No.
Do I find the site, with its hate mail, fan mail, and ironic ads by google entertaining? Sweet sassy molassy, Yes!

Smash the iPod!

I'm just a takin' a quiz, just a takin' a quiz...

Quiz: Kingdom Hearts
(drum roll please)

I AM.... RIKU!

(If you didn't see that coming, you haven't been paying attention.)




More free games to keep you occupied and out of trouble.


NationStates is a nation simulation game based on the book Jennifer Government by Max Barry.

Create a nation, rule it however you please, interact with other nations, and join the UN.

You know you want to be a dictator. ;)



Here's a question I get:

Do you know a good massage therapist?

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

Her name is Amy and this is her Massage website!

Let's just call them pr0n scarves and get it over with.

A grad student came up with a scarf that let's you play your game without anyone seeing the screen or your face.


Worth Waiting For...

Don't have an Xbox 360? Is it just too expensive? Don't worry. Microsoft is coming to the rescue...

By dropping the price by a hundred bucks when the PS3 makes its debute!

Sneaky! Sneaky!

Microsoft is redesigning Xbox components to make them cheaper and be able to drop the Xbox price. Microsoft will still lose money on the console, but what they are doing is a time honored trick in the Wal-Mart world: drop your price so low your competitor cannot compete. If microsoft edges sony out of the console war, they are free to price their consoles however they like.

Sony, which plans to launch the PS3 with a whopping (yes, that's sarcastic) ten games, is going to hit sink or swim this fall. They will, of course, sink. What with all the extra weight, also known as the God-forsaken Blu-Ray. Time to pull out my funeral gear.

Of course, neither of the giants are considering Nintendo a threat, which is a big mistake. Regardless of the horrible name change, the Wii may take them all down.


Web Comics Worth Reading

Here's my favorite web comics. How did these mighties get on my list? They managed to keep me hooked everyday. Are they in any particular order? Nope.

8-bit Theatre @ Nuklearpower
8-bit love with the original Final Fantasy I cast.

CVRPG (Castlevania RPG)
Not a day goes by that I don't wonder what horrible trouble Xavier Darkmoon's got himself in. For a Castlevania whore like me, this comic is a rare gem.

Bunny: the Book of Random
Bunny features... bunnies. Not all of them are cute and adorable. Don't worry, Orange. I wish I could have loaded a few colossi with explosives too.

Dinosaur Comics
This is one of the funniest comics I've ever found. The art never changes, in fact, it always stays exactly the same. But, the comic never fails to amuse.

Sluggy Freelance
I'll be honest, I love the old stuff better than the new, but I still can't stop reading. Watch out for the kittens...

Red Meat
You have to be a real geek or a real psycho to get this comic. Luckily, I am both.

Pocket Hands
Jimi promised more, but he hasn't updated in a year. It's now dead, hence no link, but it still ranks as one of my favorite comics. Pocket Hands followed the adventures of Jimi and Kevin through college. Why Pocket Hands? Because Jimi can't draw hands.

Penny Arcade
They're already on the roll, but also deserve a nod here.

Order of the Stick
Stick figure love and a gamer's delight. This is the only place where AD&D means Attention Deficit Disorder.


Happy Father's Day!

Love ya, Dad!

Here's my hero! I burned mp3's of Fulton Sheen's Retreat for People on the Go for him for Father's Day.

P.S. - yes, I am aware that I posted a picture of myself. :)


Bra Size and Video Games

Female gamers often talk about the bra size of female characters in games. Why? Because they're obviously designed by horny guys and we think that's both horrifying and terribly funny. I'm not being really philisophical with this post. I'm just pointing out the good, the bad, and, well, there isn't really any ugly. Drop me note if you find some.

Here's the *big* badies:

Kurenai - Red Ninja: End of Honor
I don't know how those flopping triple D's manage to stay in that horrible excuse for a kimono. The only reason it's tolerable is that Kurenai can cut off heads, cut people in half, and do some generally nasty things with her unique weapon.

Shania - Shadow Hearts From the New World
This pair of whopping triple D's are held in place by a ribbon that falls off with every transformation. Of course, it didn't matter if the ribbon was there or not, I didn't use her until after I picked up her final form at the end of the game.

Reith - Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
Though not as bad as the above two, Reith is eternally pictured with her tits up in her face. There's some sexual connotation in that, that I am ignoring. The only thing that keeps you from noticing her chest is her hips and thighs, which would give all the women in my place of work combined a run for our money.

Eonis - Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
While we're on Magna Carta, let's not forget Eonis. It's not that her chest is big, mind you, it's that they're big and strangely shaped. I hope to God that's her armor or she's got beigger problems then the Yason.

Tifa - Final Fantasy VII
The only character to make it on both lists. The Tifa of the game was more than top heavy, she made Barbie look down right flat! How she managed to move without snapping her spine I will never figure out.

Lara Croft - Tomb Raider

Though there are plenty of female characters with a larger breasts, Lara took the world by storm by being a video game that featured a girl and was very popular with guys. She gets the most flack, since she'd the most visible, and in the earliest games the character design deserves it.

Karen - Shadow Hearts Covenant
Karen does a good job of hiding the goods for the beginning of the game, but the moment she lets the guys dress her the whole world can tell that she's going to have back problems before she even gets around to marrying Ben Hyuga.

Mortal Kombat
, Street Fighter, Soul Caliber
Don't get me wrong, I love games in which I can beat the shit out of someone else, or at least the AI, and Soul Caliber's addition of Link to the family was great, but man, tone down the size of the jugs.

Let's be nice. There are examples of game programmers who got it right (or at least had both hands on the key board when mapping out the character.

Lulu - Final Fantasy X
Yes, Lulu is top heavy. She is also an average sized woman. It's a costume I could easily pull off.

Yuna - Final Fantasy X

Yuna is a well proportioned girl. Even in X-2, here chest size didn't increase. She did look less like the summoning priestess she was supposed to be...

Alice - Shadow Hearts
Alice, sweet little Alice. You can ignore her short dress because she's pretty well proportioned, with a bit on the thin side.

Tifa - Final Fantasy VII Advent Children
Toned down for a larger (no pun intended) audience, this Tifa is correctly proportioned and ends up looking ten times cooler.

Aerith - Final Fantasy VII
Let's not forget the sacrifice of FF7: Aerith. She had a normal body. In fact, when I think about, the only female in Final Fantasy whose character design made you cry was Tifa. Even the scantily clad Yuna, Riku, and Paine of X-2 were well proportioned. (Yes, I know I gave you a link to a Kingdom Hearts shot. The point is still the same.)

Zelda - Legend of Zelda
Link's lady love is an elf, which has worked in her back's favor. Elfish girls, even in video games, have managed to stay flat as a board.

Peach - Super Mario Brothers
Princess Peach, marketed to younger players, is well proportioned, if cartoonish. Which is good, because she's marketed to younger players.

So it's not all bad. It's pretty obvious which games were made to appeal to a particular set though. Though gravity defying tits is only one thing to complain about. I can go on and on about scantily clad women or token female characters that have no personality. To be honest, I'm not surprised by the amount female objectification in some games. I'm just disappointed.